France – Day 38 – 41: Nice

After a 12 hour journey from Chalais – Bordeaux – Nice, I made it to the beautiful coastal city, Nice.

Day 38

When I arrived at the hostel, I met some people from the United States and we decided to check out a free concert that was happening on the beach. I arrived on 20 June the day before Le Fête de la Musique – a music festival that happens all around France on the 21 June.

Place Massena - Promenade du Paillon

Place Massena – Promenade du Paillon

Needless to say, I was exhausted from my journey which started at 5:30am that morning. But I pushed through and attended the concert alongside two new friends. The concert was quite amazing. They had a huge screen and there were loads of people in attendance. Families and young people were out for the night enjoying the music.

Day 39

Then it was Le Fête de la Musique. Festivities did not start until the evening so I had the day to do whatever I wanted.

Place Massena- Nice

Place Massena

I began my day by going to the flower and fruit market – Cours Saleya. I had strawberries for breakfast, and bought myself some delicious marinated sun-dried tomatoes and a 4 grain baguette (so yum) for lunch.

Fresh strawberries from Cours Saleya

Fresh strawberries from Cours Saleya

Cours Saleya - Fruit & Flower Market in Nice

Cours Saleya – Fruit & Flower Market in Nice

I enjoyed my strawberries on the boardwalk along the water. There is definitely no shortage of beautiful views in Nice.

Boardwalk Nice

Boardwalk in Nice

Nice Coast

After spending the day playing tourist, wandering and seeing some truly beautiful things in Nice I went out for dinner with a fellow Canadian at an Indian Restaurant- Delhi Belhi. We ordered the vegetarian menu which came with a platter of pakora and samosas, two main dishes, a piece a naan, some rice, and a nice cup of Chai tea at the end. I adore Indian food, and this meal was a delight!

Pakora & Samosa Entrée

Pakora & Samosa Entrée

Later that night, I attended La Fête de la Musique. We made our way towards the beach front first, and then worked our way through the winding streets of Old Town – Vieux Ville.

The festival was truly fascinating, there were street performers and bands on every corner and on every street. There was musical tastes for everyone – reggae, rock, rap, alternative, pop, soca – everything. Seeing people from all over the world come together, experiencing different styles of music was truly remarkable.

Day 40

The next day I spent some time walking around Old Town exploring some of the cute areas in Nice. I enjoyed lunch at a Turkish restaurant, and then continued to explore the side streets.

Side streets in Nice

Side streets in Nice

Lunch at Turkish restaurant Nice

Lunch in Nice

After getting a little lost, I made my way up to Le Chateau. First, I stumbled across Cimetière Colline du Château which was really amazing. It offered really spectacular views of the city.

Nice, France view of city

Beautiful view in Nice

Whilst observing these incredible views I was overwhelmed by the beauty of our world and just how blessed I am. In this moment I was extremely grateful to have the opportunities to travel and see this incredible world we live in.

Le Chateau Cemetery

Cimetière Colline du Château

Le Chateau Cemetery

Cimetière Colline du Château

I then made my way up to the top of Le Chateau, which is quite the walk. There is a mini-train that is available for people who want to go to the top of Le Chateau but don’t want to walk.

View at top of Le Chateau, Nice, France

View from the top of Le Chateau

It was a VERY hot day and I had a tiny water bottle with me, so I was severely dehydrated by the time I reached the top. If you decide to make the trek I definitely recommend you have a lot of water on hand.

Luckily, my hostel was very central so after that exhausting walk I was able to head back to my room in no time. I stayed at the Villa Saint Exupery Beach, which was in such a great location and had a really great atmosphere.

One of the reasons I love hostels is that you get to meet a lot of really interesting people – either in your room or in the common areas. That night I went out to Wayne’s Bar – a local bar often frequented by expatriates – with some new friends I made in my room.

I had a fantastic night – we relaxed on the beach and danced the night away in the bar.

Day 41

On my final day in Nice, I decided to spend the day on the beach (yay – finally!).

I ate breakfast at a café beside the Cours Saleya where I enjoyed chocolate, strawberry and banana pancakes. After we ate breakfast, we enjoyed the Cours Saleya, where I bought some more sundried tomatoes and a 4 grain baguette (yum!).

Breakfast on Cours Saleya, Nice, France

Chocolate, strawberry and banana pancakes

I spent a few hours on the beach with a new friend. It was a very windy day, so I was unable to go swimming because the lifeguards pulled everyone in and told people that the current was too strong for anyone to be swimming. While that was extremely disappointing since I didn’t have the opportunity to swim while I was in Nice, it just means that I have to plan my return – and I definitely do not mind!

Beach in Nice, France

Windy day at the beach

After spending a lot of time in the sun, I decided to relax in one of the parks close to Place Massena, where I could relax in the shade. I relaxed so much, that I actually fell asleep in the park, with my head on top of my beach bag.

For my final night I decided to make a return trip to Delhi Belhi. This time I was alone, and I ordered the Thali Végétarien, which was a variety of vegetarian dishes served in small metal dishes along with rice and naan. While I was eating my meal, I ended up chatting with a small family from Seattle who were visiting Nice for the week.

Eating alone doesn’t always have to be lonely.

Thali Végétarien - Nice, France

Thali Végétarien from Delhi Belhi

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France – My Internship at La Giraudière

Four weeks of my two month trip were spent in a little village called Brossac at a program called La Giraudière. La Giraudière offers volunteer, internship and school programs for people all around the world.

I opted for the internship program. Of course at the time of signing up I didn’t even know there was a difference between the internship and volunteer program (oops).

The internship program gave me the opportunity to work with Paul, the project director of La Giraudière and learn about the application process, social media and marketing aspects of the project.

Volunteers in France

La Giraudière

Volunteers in France

Paul and I in Talmont-sur-Gironde

The programs at La Giraudière offer a really great balance between work and play for volunteers and interns. Each week consists of three working days and four days of free time. Volunteers and interns work Tuesday through Thursday, and are free to explore other areas of France from Friday through Monday.

As an intern I had two private French lessons and one group French lesson a week. Whereas the volunteer program offers one group French lesson a week. You can read more about an internship at La Giraudière here and more about the volunteer program here.

At a very affordable rate, La Giraudière is a great option for people looking for a unique experience in France. The program offers volunteers and interns the opportunity to experience the French culture and to meet a lot of diverse people from around the world.

It truly is a place where people of all ages and cultures come together, eat good food, drink lots of wine and have a great time.

Volunteers in France

Lunch in Saint-Palais-sur-mer

Accommodations

Accommodations at La Giraudière are spacious and clean, but not for the faint-hearted. You will become quite friendly with the neighbouring Daddylong Legs. Of course they are harmless and you get so used to seeing them that they rarely bug you when you come across them. There is something about travelling that makes you more accustomed to seeing these creatures (normally at home I am terrified ha).

Meals

Meal times are great bonding time for all volunteers and interns. Volunteers and interns take turns cooking meals for everyone. Sometimes challenging as you have to ensure there is something for everyone – I am a vegetarian so this was a challenge at times.

Work

Work days at La Giraudière started at 9:00am and finished by 5:00pm. The day was broken up by a tea break at 11:00am and again by a lunch break at 1:00pm (sometimes lasting an hour or an hour and a half). The work atmosphere was very relaxing at La Giraudière, but that doesn’t mean things were not getting done. In fact, Paul ensured all volunteers were staying safe and on task.

Each day the volunteers were excited to see how the work they were doing was contributing to the success and development of the project. Many of the volunteers helped out in the Old House of La Giraudière which has been and will be used to host a variety of community events. Others maintained the gardens and the trees around the property. While others were responsible for blogging, social media and accounting duties.

Beautiful property at La Giraudière

Beautiful property at La Giraudière

There is definitely no shortage of work to be done at La Giraudière, but there is also no shortage of a good time. Paul is passionate about La Giraudière and that becomes clear in his dedication to the project. He also is very funny and makes for a truly enjoyable experience in France.

If you are interested in learning more about the program and what it entails check out the La Giraudière blog that is put together by volunteers and interns that participate in the program.

France – Day: 27-36

After my three days of exploration in beautiful areas of France it was time to get down to business.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are three busy work days that I spent checking emails, processing applications, updating social media and working on marketing with fellow volunteers.

The work days at La Giraudière are always balanced with pleasure, as the group all enjoy a home-cooked meal together each evening.

Volunteers and interns take turns cooking each day of the week, and occasionally the group would have special evening outings for dinner or to get dessert.

The local restaurant Quai Sud had a variety of delicious desserts, ranging from fondant au chocolat, tarte tatin and glacée. All delicious!

Volunteers in France

Tarte Tatin from Quai Sud

Volunteers in France

Vanille Glacée avec supplement chocolat chaud (Vanilla ice cream with hot fudge) from Quai Sud

Volunteers in France

Fondant au Chocolat from Quai Sud

I also had the opportunity to experience the French culture and community. During my last week at La Giraudiere there was a village fete happening in the town next to Brossac. There we enjoyed an excellent feast, wine, a bonfire and dancing.

Volunteers in France

Bonfire at Fêtes de la Saint Jean

Volunteers in France

Fire Lanterns at Fêtes de la Saint Jean

Volunteers in France. Cultural Immersion

Dance Floor at Fêtes de la Saint Jean

France – Day 26: Road Trip in France

I had the opportunity to do a road trip along the coast in France with fellow volunteers from La Giraudiere.

Paul, the project director rented a van and drove the volunteers to some beautiful sights in the south west of France.

Pons

Our first destination for the day was Pons, a beautiful medieval village, especially known for its ties to Quebec in Canada. This was our first stop for our road trip, where we stopped at a café for breakfast.

volunteets in France

Donjon Medieval

  Volunteers in France  

Talmont-sur-Gironde

After Pons we made our way to a small village called Talmont-sur-Gironde. Talmont is one of many villages of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Every side street, and every home was full of charm in this little village, and no access for cars made it very quiet and peaceful.

volunteers in France

Charming garden hut in Talmont

volunteers in France

Eglise Sainte-Radegonde de Talmont

volunteers in France

Cemetary

volunteers in France

One of the many charming streets in Talmont

Saint-Palais-sur-Mer

Our final destination of the day was Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, which means “on the sea”. When we arrived we walked among the quaint streets and enjoyed a delicious lunch at Les Quimperoises Creperie. The remainder of the day was spent lounging by the beach, walking along the coast and enjoying a drink by the pool. The weather was perfect and it was a fantastic way to experience France.

Volunteers in France

Mushroom and Bechamel Sauce Crepe from Les Quimperoises Creperie  

Volunteers in France

Beach at Saint-Palais-sur-mer

Volunteers in France

Chocolate Milkshake

Volunteers in Saint-Palais-sur-mer, France

France – Day 25: A Weekend in Bordeaux (Part Two) 

My second day in Bordeaux started by going for a walk by La Flèche Saint-Michel, and the Jardin Botaniques de France et des pays francophones.  

Bordeaux, France

La Fleche Saint-Michel

  
Bordeaux

Jardin Botaniques

    

Our group then made out way to Le Marché des Capucins, where there was an abundance of fresh fruits, baked goods and more. While there we found a vendor that sold fresh empanadas (not French but delicious ha). I had the chèvre et miel one (which is goats cheese and honey), it was warmed up and it was divine! 

After the market, my friend and I made our way towards Grande Cloche, which was truly stunning.  

Bordeaux

Grande Cloche

   

After Grande Cloche we went to Jardin Public, where we ate fruit and people watched for a little while. Around lunchtime we started to look for a place to eat, so we then made our way back towards Place des Quinconces. We ate lunch together and then decided to go our separate ways to finish off the day before we had to meet the entire group. 

Bordeaux

Jardin Public

  
Bordeaux

Jardin Public

 

On my own, I walked down rue St Catherine again and did a little window shopping. I took the tram from rue St Catherine to the waterfront. 
I decided to spend my last few hours in Bordeaux by sitting in a café, people watching and writing in my journal.   

France – Day 24: A Weekend in Bordeaux (Part One)

I had the opportunity to go into Bordeaux with four other members of my group from La Giraudiere.

I initially was planning to go to Saintes and Angoulême this weekend but decided I would join the group and go with them.

I am very glad I did.

Bordeaux is a truly amazing city. Full of beautiful architecture, art, wine and so much more.

Day 24 

We arrived via train Saturday morning and got into Bordeaux around lunch time.

Our group of five split into different directions depending on what people wanted to see.

One friend bought the Bordeaux City Pass from the Office de Tourisme – 25€ for 1 day and 30€ for 2 days. The City Pass gave her access to the buses and trams in the city, free entry into all the museums, a boat tour, and a bus tour. So it is definitely worth checking out if it interests you.

Two other friends targeted the main sights and attractions to get a brief glance into Bordeaux’s history. Another good option to see some of the highlights of Bordeaux.

For me, I wanted to mostly just get a feel for the city, see the sites and of course drink some wine. A friend and I walked from the station down along the river and then walked inland to find some lunch. We stumbled upon a cute café where we had quiche, and I had a glass of tasty red wine.

Volunteer in France

Vin Rouge

Volunteers in France

Vegetable Quiche

Luckily enough we ate lunch at a café that was just around the corner from the Basilique de Saint Michel. By the time we got there a flee market was just ending. They had loads of different things – such as clothing, furniture, cooking utensils, fruit and more.

Cultural Immersion in Bordeaux France

Basilique de Saint Michel

Volunteers in Bordeaux France

Basilique de Saint Michel

We then worked our way towards Place de la Victoire, where Université de Bordeaux II and the Musée d’Ethnographie are situated. While we were there we stumbled upon a rugby festival, with activities and music playing.

Volunteers in France

Place de la Victoire

Place de la Victoire

Université de Bordeaux II

We then made our way to rue St Catherine, which is a 1.2 km pedestrian street rich with history. It is a highly popular street with a lot of commercial shops along it. While we walked I stumbled upon a juice shop (can you tell I love these!) and got a Nutella smoothie – it had frozen yogurt, nutella, banana and vanilla in it – so yummy!

Rue St Catherine, Bordeaux, France

Fresh Fruit – Rue St Catherine

Rue St Catherine, Bordeaux, France

Nutella Smoothie – Rue St Catherine

Our next stop was Basilique de Saint Andrés where we found another festival, this time focusing on accessibility. There were entertainers and lots of information around.

Volunteers in Bordeaux, France

Basilique Saint Andrés

Volunteers in Bordeaux, France

Basilique Saint Andrés

We then found Hotel de Ville (city hall), and made our way to Grand Théatre, where we saw lots of people dancing and simply enjoying life.

Grand Théatre - Bordeaux, France

Dancing near Grand Théatre

Grand Théatre - Bordeaux, France

Place de la Comédie – Grand Théatre

We topped the day off with a walk to the river, dinner at a yummy local restaurant, and a walk across the river to our hotel for the night.

Boardwalk along Garonne River - Bordeaux, France

Boardwalk along La Garonne

Monument aux Girondins - Bordeaux, France

Monument aux Girondins

Place de la Bourse - Bordeaux, France

Place de la Bourse

Mirror d'eau - Bordeaux, France

Mirror d’eau

Belle Campagne Local Restaurant - Bordeaux, France

Vin Rouge, Belle Campagne Local Restaurant

Belle Campagne Local Restaurant - Bordeaux, France

Homemade Hommos et Naan, Belle Campagne Local Restaurant

Belle Campagne Local Restaurant - Bordeaux, France

Chevre Ravioli, Belle Campagne Local Restaurant

La Garonne - Bordeaux, France

Sunset along La Garonne

France – Day 20, 21, 22 & 23: Post-Graduation Reflections

This week marks a year since I graduated university. Several of my friends are graduating this week, and I am so proud!

At this time I can’t help but think about where I am now since I have graduated. Yes, you got it, reflecting again!

I am pretty excited with where I am right now. Since graduating I haven’t truly figured out what I want to do. I know that my degree was the right decision and I know that I am heading in the right direction.

There are times when I get very overwhelmed and I feel so lost, but there are times like right now, when I feel at ease and happy with the direction of my life.

I usually associate these feelings of ease with my yoga and meditation practice.

I also think that being away from family, friends and my partner makes me realize just how much love I have in my life.

Now onto Day 20, 21, 22, 23 of my current trip to France!

Day 20

Today was a work day. I spent the morning running through all the new applications for La Giraudiere the project I am currently interning at in the south west of France. If you are interested in learning more about the project you can check out their website. At the end of my internship I will do a more detailed post about my experience and thoughts about the program.

Day 21

Another working day. Today I had the opportunity to speak with a French women before dinner. I was pleasently surprised to learn that I could understand quite a lot of what she was saying. Learning the language is definitely a slow and steady process.

Intern in south west France

Beautiful sunset in Brossac – the Charante region of France

Day 22

Today was another working day, so I will spare you the details. It was a beautiful, hot day in Brossac. For dinner we went to a local Fish and Chips restaurant where we had some drinks and great food. I started my dinner with a nice cold beer, perfect on a very hot day.

Volunteer in south west France

Cold beer in Chalais – Charante region of France

As I am a vegetarian I did not eat fish, I had a salade verte avec les frites (salad with fries). For dessert I had a delicious fondant au chocolat. This was by far the greatest cake I have had, maybe ever. It was just divine.

Volunteer in France

Fondant au chocolat in Chalais – Charante region in France

Day 23 

Today I had another group French lesson, which was much more successful than the week before. After the lesson I went for a brief walk around the area before I sat down with the rest of the group to have dinner.

Charante region in France

Beautiful views in Brossac

After dinner, two other volunteers and I went into the village to play Pétanque with some locals. This was definitely a good way to practice my French. While there I learned that I should no longer say I do not speak French, but instead say I do and really work on listening and figuring out how to respond to the person whom I am speaking with. Having a little bit more faith in my abilities.

Pétanque in France

Playing pétanque